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Under proposed new fuel economy rules set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers with powerful short-wheelbase models are going to feel some pain. The agency is considering a plan to create two sliding scales of efficiency for cars and trucks of different sizes. Automakers will be assigned fuel economy standards based on the "footprint" (short wheelbase = small footprint) of their vehicles, and the number of vehicles they sell. Companies like Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, independent luxury brands with high-performance models, will be hit the hardest. Interestingly enough, Toyota, Chrysler, and General Motors, big players with diverse model lineups, won't feel as much pressure.

Conforming to the tough new proposed rules may be very expensive. As a result, some industry executives expect some automakers, such as Porsche, just to pay the fines--it's less costly than changing a model lineup. Regulators are under the gun to adopt a policy by April 1, 2009. In the meantime, the NHTSA will be taking public comments over the next two months. Time to send 'em a letter...

[Source: Autoweek]



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  • 42 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've recently come to the conclusion that America would be a much better place if the corporations just took over the government by force and established total corporate hegemony.

      It's not just automakers who are being oppressed; look at any company that makes any food that's not health food. They're being attacked from every angle, and they need to fight back.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Don't buy the line that it's the government against the corporations. They've been in bed with each other for 60 years.

        It's the corporations the government is currently sleeping with against the corporations who would like to be sleeping with the government instead.

      • 6 Years Ago
      I definitely do not agree with these standards but it looks to me that this might be used to try to boost the economy by increasing the sales of American owned car manufacturers since they make the biggest and least fuel efficient vehicles on the road. I guess in the future we will all be driving 30-foot long Mustangs.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Spot on, spot on.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They can certainly expect a nasty letter from me as well. In general, a car's wheelbase is an OK indication of the amount of crap it can carry. But most Americans who buy large cars aren't using them to tow large loads or carry significant numbers of people. They are using them the exact same way that small car owners use their cars: to commute to work and buy groceries. So my BMW 328, which gets ~28mpg is way, way, WAY more efficient than my neighbor's Ford Excursion, which gets ~14mpg, for the same purpose. And even if we each decided to carpool, when she loads herself and 6 co-workers into her SUV, it still won't be as efficient as fitting myself and 3 others comfortable into my BMW.

      This proposal also doesn't make sense because the performance cars that tend to have smaller wheelbases comprise a very small segment of the market. So fining them would have little effect producing more fuel-efficient vehicles across the industry--it would just create a new luxury tax for performance cars. Also, as other people have mentioned, this proposal discourages innovation in large-car fuel efficiency. Put simply, there is NOTHING good about this initiative. It should be canned without anyone batting an eyelid. But this is America, land of the gas-guzzling SUV, so I think we can expect this whole experience to suck.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So, manufacturers will switch to building more extended wheelbase trucks and SUV's. Great, just what we need. May I be the first to predict the return of GM's steering rear axle is this regulation comes to pass.

      OTOH, RWD and mid engined cars are very easy to reduce the overhangs on and thus have a larger wheelbase for a given length car. Hmmmm.... This could encourage large sedans to all switch back to RWD.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is just proof that CAFE has less to do about the environment and more to do with appeasing environmentalists. (Not the same thing)
        • 6 Years Ago
        lol, i'm definitely not an anarchist.

        But yeah, I said it had less to do with the environment, not nothing to do with it. Obviously burning less fuel (or doing so indirectly, by fining manufacturers for gas guzzlers) is environmental. The idea of CAFE is good, it's the execution that fails it. You can have all the good intentions in the world, but it won't do you any good. This size-based scale is exactly the type of foolish reasoning that we've come to expect from CAFE.

        As for your smog and acid rain argument, modern cars emit very little in terms of particulates and sulphates. Cars in urban areas with the ULEV (I think) certification or better will actually filter more particulates in the intake than emit in the exhaust.
        • 6 Years Ago
        CAFE is not perfect and this proposed rule is moronic, but please explain how burning less fuel is not environmental.

        Lets remove carbon emissions from the discussion and we still have smog and acid rain that come with IC engines.

        My hunch is you said what you said because you think anything mandated by the government is evil, but just maybe you have an intelligent opinion. Let's hear it Seoultrain.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As long as the new rules don't hurt Hummer production, America will be safe from the tree-hugging terrorists.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow. I hope that the new Legacy has a longer wheelbase - else this could cause an unfortunate demise of the STi.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well, if the taxation formula is - um - wheelbase-based, it seems that Subaru could reduce the exposure to the STi by increasing the wheelbase of the next gen Legacy/ Outback.

        Hopefully the corporate "mpg per inches" (that's funny) will be high enough that penalty STi tax - ergo, price is not too highly impacted.

        I drive a Legacy now but, frankly, want the utilitarian flexibility of the STi's hatch and fold-down seats.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Huh?
      • 6 Years Ago
      A better idea would be to transfer the concept of "carbon credits" over to federal mileage standards, so that smaller automakers can pay the larger automakers to reduce their emissions/increase mileage on their behalf. Because the large automakers have scale, Toyota can increase the mileage of their Corollas by a small margin to offset the ridiculously low mileage of Porsche's GT3.
      Doug Menasche
      • 6 Years Ago
      Are they serious, why would they want cars bigger, that is what is causing gas to be $4 a gallon, WHO NEEDS AN SUV?? most people do not have a reason, you fill up your SUV for $60 dollars a tank, drive 300 miles and your out, I fill up my car for $35 dollars and drive 300 miles, WHAT IS GOING ON!!!!!!!!!! BAN SUV'S!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      This plan makes about as much sense as solving obesity by taxing pizzas according to their diameter.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ferraris, Lambos and Porsches are driven little compared to Priuses. You can compare similar year Lambo and Prius mileages on EBay. It's quite likely that a Prius bought this year will consume more gasoline during its lifetime than a Lambo bought this year.

      As environment doesn't care what source the CO2 comes from, why should the Lambo be pay more in for pollution than the Prius, since the Prius will likely pollute as much?

      CO2/km is something; but any fines should be based on actual CO2 emissions, which is a function of kilometers driven and CO2/km.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think there needs to be some sort of grandfather clause for these high performance cars.
      We all know Ferrari, Porsche, or Lamborghini (yes I know they are Audi owned now) will never build in mass, fuel efficient vehicles. Its against everything they stand for and would just be diluting a good brand.
      All companies that existed as solely high performance brands, before the CAFE standards were imposed will be exempt.
      These cars are not sold in a large enough volume to make a very large difference in the amount of fuel saved or environment preserved
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